Harlequin Dream is the second album from Boy and Bear and immediately I'm struck with how assured and confident it sounds, I thought their debut had them reaching for a sounds that wasn't exactly there's. It appears that the band have grown in confidence and asserted themselves, recording the album in Sydney with their own choice of producer. Their debut Moonfire was produced by Joe Chicharelli in Nashville with the band not feeling in control of the final product.
Harlequin Dream is more textured, more of a focus on expanding the instrumentation, deft flourishes here and wide expanses there. Southern Sun is a portent of what is to come, a unique sense of open space, the song offers a sense of the band being on an upward trajectory and enjoying the wildness of the ride.
Old Town Blues has a weariness about it the worry of passing on something of substance to a future generation but still learning what it all means. Harlequin Dream demonstrates how far musically the band have come, deeper song structures, strings meandering throughout the song and a more confident rhythm section, the song also has a great sax solo in the middle before shifting towards something sounding like cascading gypsy music. Songwriter Dave Hosking has always had a fascination with the sense of being a rock and roll musician and it often winds its way into his lyrics. Bridges focuses on how being a musicians has drawn him away from family and friends, the fear being that he has grown selfish and removed from reality. It has a dream like quality with a nice funky guitar interlude.
A Moment's Grace sees them return to more of their folk roots, stripped back and bare with a philosophical look over the shoulder, the album as a whole seems to be one of questioning, is all as it seems, have they forgotten how to live? Back Down The Black has an ominous air, keeping the baying dogs from the door, resplendent in dark keyboard tones. Harlequin Dream is one of the best local releases of the year and it's great to see a band produce such a confident second album.